Fire Marshal's Corner: Photoelectric or Ionization Smoke Alarms: Part 2

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This month's edition of Fire Marshal's Corner takes us back to the issue of photoelectric versus ionization smoke alarms. Since last month's show, quite a bit has happened and we need to bring people up-to-date.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reissued its 2004 report on the effectiveness of smoke alarms. In this revision they had to make deletions to the tables that contained information about the operation of the dual-sensor smoke alarms. It turns out that they were not co-located with the other smoke alarms but were placed further away from the source of the fire, causing them to alarm later than the single-sensor smoke alarms.

Also, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released a task group report on this subject as well. In addition to the group's findings there were several dissenting opinions included in the report. Links to both of these reports can be found below on this podcast player page.

One of the dissenting opinions was written by Dr. Don Russell, a Regents professor at Texas A&M, who joins host Ed Comeau to discuss some of the controversial portions of the report and provide us with his thoughts based on his extensive testing of smoke alarms over the past decade.

Dr. William Grosshandler, deputy director of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory at NIST, reviews the testing that was done in 2004 and the methodology that went into putting the experiments together that resulted in the 2004 report.

Wrapping up will be Rodger Reiswig, director of industry relations for SimplexGrinnell. Rodger is going to cover the technology that is involved in the design of photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms so we can have a better understanding of how these devices work.

Related Links

Special reprint of an article on this subject that is appearing in the February issue of Campus Firewatch

NFPA Task Force Report including dissenting opinions

NIST Smoke Alarm Study along with revision history and FAQs

IAFC Fire and Life Safety Section Position Paper

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